Shared web hosting is the practice of hosting many websites on the same server at the same time. Did that sound like gibberish to you? Let’s translate it then.
Think of your site as an app. The server is the cellphone. If your site is in a shared server, then your site is one of the 50 applications that the cellphone is running at the same time. The alternative is dedicated web-hosting, where you own or rent a full server — in this scenario, your app/site has a full cellphone all for itself.
It may sound like the latter is obviously better, but servers are expensive. There are good reasons to use shared servers to host your website, and there are good reasons not to do it as well. This article will help you understand the risks and benefits of shared web hosting, as well as help you understand when you should switch to a more powerful hosting solution.
Costs and expenses
The main reason business owners choose shared web hosting is the price. Buying powerful servers is expensive, and they need maintenance and support after being bought, which racks up the costs. Operating in shared servers saves you from all that.
Security and privacy
However, being one of fifty sites on the same server does come with some security concerns. A lot of them, actually. In this hypothetical server that hosts exactly fifty sites, hackers only need to compromise one of the sites to gain access to the other forty-nine. Which is fine, if all you are hosting is a landing page or a blog. But if your site is collecting private user information, it might be wiser to go for a more secure solution.
Speed and uptime
When conditions stay typical, reputable providers of shared web-hosting services can guarantee a reasonable amount of speed and stability for the sites they host. However, when the situation grows atypical, there may be problems.
Say your site gets an average of fifty visits a day. That’s a respectable amount for a small or medium-sized company. But then you put one of your products on sale, or one of your marketing campaigns goes viral. Suddenly, you might be receiving a hundred times your daily number of visitors within an hour, and the server won’t be ready for it. At best your site might slow down, and at worst it’ll crash entirely, leaving your potential costumes with no way to spend their money on your products.
When to change
When your site starts crashing often or slowing down during peak access times, that’s when you should definitely upgrade your hosting solution. It might be time to go for a more expensive and robust shared-hosting option, or time to invest in acquiring dedicated servers for your business hosting needs.
There is, however, a third option. Virtual private servers (VPS) stand as a middle ground between owning a server and sharing a server. A VPS allows you to rent part of a server instead of owning a complete one, which gives you the best of both worlds.
With a VPS you won’t have to worry about maintaining the server, nor will you have to pay for a full server upfront. You can just rent a fraction of a server and enjoy a boost in stability without as a result. A trustworthy and cheap VPS is also safer than shared web-hosting, due to the way that the different parts of the server are kept disconnected from each other – there will be no direct path for people who hack into some other site to reach your site in the same server.
A site taking a few more seconds to load may not seem like a big deal, but remember: Google takes loading speeds into account when ranking websites. If your site takes much longer than the average to load, your chances of ranking high in search results drop significantly, which can hurt your company’s visibility.